MARION — Mountain poultry and rabbit producers now have a place to take their animals for processing, and it’s billed as “the first community-administered, nonprofit meat processing facility in the U.S.”
The Foothills Pilot Plant — a collaborative effort of state and local governments, small-scale meat animal producers and grant-making agencies — will open Wednesday, a few days ahead of schedule. Because the plant will be run under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, meat processed at the plant can be transported and sold across state lines.
Jamie Ager, who operates Hickory Nut Gap Farms, which provides local meat to area restaurants and stores, said the facility provides a missing piece in the local agriculture community and should allow local poultry producers to “ramp up” production. Ager’s farm processes about 1,000 birds a year now, but he says the new facility should be more efficient.
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